Date of Award

5-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

International Family and Community Studies

Committee Member

Dr. Mark A. Small, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Martie P. Thompson

Committee Member

Dr. Natalia Sianko

Committee Member

Dr. Heidi M. Zinzow

Abstract

Suicide is a major health concern on U.S. college campuses. Research on risk and protective factors related to suicidal behaviors among college students has revealed that certain student populations such as veterans, international students, and LGBTQ students may be at greater risk for suicide. However, no known research on undergraduate transfer student status in relation to suicide ideation and attempts exists. Using the Triadic Theory of Influence (TTI) (Flay & Petraitis, 1994) as a framework, this study seeks to shed light on the relationship between transfer student status and suicide ideation and attempts, as well as the hypothesized mediating effects of intrapersonal level and social level risk and protective factors. Findings from the American College Health Association National College Health Assessment (ACHA-NCHA) Fall 2013, 2014, and 2015 datasets suggest significant differences by transfer student status among key demographics and risk and protective factors for suicidal behaviors, and that transfer students experience higher frequencies of risk factors associated with mental health diagnosis and treatment, higher frequencies of risk factors associated with psychological distress, and lower frequencies of protective factors associated with social connectivity. Findings also suggest that the constructs of mental health diagnosis and treatment, psychological distress, and to a lesser degree social connectivity mediate the relationship between transfer student status and suicide ideation and attempts. Though use of ACHA-NCHA datasets provided for robust sampling, this study was limited by its use of secondary data as items pertaining to transfer student status and social connectivity measures were limited. These findings may inform ongoing practice and future research into methods that reduce risk factors and bolster protective factors among undergraduate college transfer students.

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